Tuesday, 21 July 2015

When is a Record not a Record?

We all come up against difficulties in our research. After many years, I thought I had seen it all.

Recently I was tracking a birth from 1879 in a rural parish of Co Cork.

I obtained the civil birth certificate. Name, dates, address etc. all correct. I was then curious enough to try to locate the baptism. One to five 5 days after the birth, I should find him easy enough. No sign of him!

I then thought to myself that perhaps the informant was confused. I checked further back,4 days prior to the birth I thought I had found him. Much to my amazement, instead of seeing a Michael, I saw Bridget! Same parents and  same address.  

I had a Michael with  a birth cert. but no baptism. I had a Bridget's baptism with no birth cert. What would you go for? They are both official records.

I had spent a number of days researching, I have now proved Michael in 1879 beyond doubt.

The Priest must have made a mistake. Most people think of a couple baptising their child one or two days after the birth in the local church.

1. The mother wouldn't be there, There was a tradition of the Mother not attending church for a month. The church gave the mother a "special blessing" after the month. Basically the church thought her as "unclean",

2. Many children were baptised at home. If the child was weak, and there was a chance the baby wouldn't make it, it was common that the woman delivering the baby could baptise the child. 

The notes of the baptims of those baptised at home might have been kept and then added into the register at a later stage. I believe this is where the mistake was made.

I did think of different scenarios, including twins. One registered and one not, also one baptised the other not. That was too unlikely.

I'm happy enough now that I have found Michael. Michael appears with family members in the 1901 census, I obtained all details from his marriage certificate and I know where he was buried.

The only reference to a Bridget is the baptism, which I now know  is incorrect.

All of the above goes to show that more than the one record is needed if possible. No matter how unlikely the scenario. 

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